Peppers are popular all over the world for that spicy jolt they give to your tastebuds. Though the experience can sometimes be painful, many love the almost addicting taste that peppers offer.
We have a different use for our peppers, but the reason we use them is the same. Peppers have a simple property that gives them that spicy taste and also gives Yippee Cayenne its soothing effect on sore throats: Capsaicin!
Capsaicin, as we mentioned in an earlier blog, is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in peppers. First discovered in 1816, innovators have found several creative ways to use this compound over the years. Read on to discover the ways you might come in contact with capsaicin without knowing it!
1. Food safety
When eaten, capsaicin triggers a release of stress hormones that causes skin reddening, sweating, and a case of the jitters. While this can be a rush for the quarter of the population that eats chilies daily, there is another reason to add peppers to food. As food spoils, microbes develop. For much of the world, proper refrigeration and storage can delay development long enough to protect eaters. For those without these options, capsaicin provides a natural way to avoid spoiling by stopping or slowing microbe growth. Many cultures have developed a taste for spicy food as a by-product of the days when the spice was needed to keep food safe!
2. Pepper spray
Ever wondered why pepper spray burns? Now you know! When capsaicin touches skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, it creates a powerful burning sensation that can deter people and animals from attacking.
Because capsaicin has so many powerful effects on ailments, researchers use it for creams, nasal sprays, ointments, and more. This compound has been tested for its effects on cancer, psoriasis, joint pain, heart disease, and other maladies, though not all have been successful.
4. Pest control
Most mammals are repelled by capsaicin, so it has been used to deter pests from eating gardens, attacking, and becoming household nuisances. Birds are insensitive to capsaicin, so it is sometimes added to birdseed to repel rodents from bird feeders.
5. Equestrian sports
Capsaicin has a pain-relieving and hypersensitizing effect, which can boost the performance of a sport horse for competition. If a horse tests positive for capsaicin at an event, as did four horses at the 2008 Summer Olympics, it is disqualified.
Do you know of other uses for capsaicin? Share in the comments!